Owning a boat in Florida is truly a wonderful thing.

There is so much water, the possibilities are endless, especially if you are a fisherman. Whether you chose fresh water, salt water or brackish water, you won't run out of new places to fish.

For me, running at speed with the salt spray in my face is a joy. These days I derive a lot of fun from taking our grandkids out for a day on the water. Our youngest is only two and a half, but it is never too early to get them started.

Of course, there are problems that come with being a boat owner. Upkeep and maintenance can be time consuming and the old saying that a boat is a hole in the water where you throw money is so accurate. If you own a boat and are lax with the maintenance, you will soon be stranded ashore.

Much of the work that needs to be done is not visible to the casual observer. Keeping the water separating filter clean, changing the spark plugs and keeping the prop greased are a must. Seeing that the fuel is fresh and adding stabilizer is important. Trailer wheel bearings must be greased often. Many a fishing trip has ended with the trailer broken down on the side of the road due to a bad bearing.

As you may imagine, in my position lots of folks want to fish with me and let me know it. That means they want me to take them fishing. For the most part I have to decline those offers. Some do want to take me fishing in their boat, but I usually opt out of that as well.

Over the years I have developed a hard and fast rule. I refuse to take on a fishing buddy who does not own a boat and is ready to use it. If I take you fishing in my boat, you must then take me out in yours. It doesn't have to be a one-on-one trade off, but I don't take on fishing buddies who don't have a boat because sooner or later money concerns will raise its ugly head.

Nothing will end a friendship faster than money. For any boater, fuel, oil, batteries and bait are expensive. Not only that, but there is labor involved. When a fishing trip is over, your guest says "thanks, nice trip" and leaves for a nap. The boat owner is not so fortunate.

The wash down to get rid of the salt includes the engine, boat and trailer. Fuel and oil has to be checked and perhaps refilled for the next trip. Fish blood, old bait and mud must be scrubbed from the vessel.

Now if you do not own a boat and are fortunate enough to be asked to go fishing with someone who does, there are things that are expected of you. You should pay for some of the fuel and all of the bait. When the trip is over, do not ask your host if you owe anything? Pull out the cash and hand it over. Asking puts the boat owner in a bad position.

My current outboard boat has been running for more than 15 years. In that time I have changed engines and trailers twice at considerable expense, not to mention the work. Keeping a vessel running that long requires constant attention.

When you are asked along on a fishing trip and enjoyed a clean, smooth-running boat, remember your host has done a lot of work and spent a lot of money to make it that way. If you want to go again, please chip in.

Thanks to Low Tide Jim for his help with this column.

Dan Smith has fished the waters of Volusia County for more than 40 years. Email questions and comments to fishwdan@att.net. His book, “I Swear the Snook Drowned,” is available for purchase for $10.95 at (386) 441-7793.

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